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Hubertus Kläs, CEO of Format Küchen, about European Lifestyle

In spring 2008 the German based company Format Küchen (founded 1895) presented the new catalogue with stylish portraits of Europeans in several countries and their life in six different cooking spaces.

CEO Hubertus Kläs, who worked for such renowned brands like Omega, Henkel, Swatch Group, Rolf Benz, Porsche Design, ... developed this authentic catalogue; not with models, but with portraits of real people.

You will find in the catalogue the article with the title "open-minded" about a Belgian couple and their guiding principle that defines urban lifestyle and their design motto "Minimalism is the ideal stage for maximum expressiveness" which is reflected even in their kitchen (see photo below); as well as an German family who states "Some call it their kitchen. We call it our centre point."

Hubertus Kläs, CEO of Format Küchen,
about European Lifestyle

In the new catalogue you present authentic FORMAT kitchens from different European countries. Who has designed the kitchens in the catalogue?

Hubertus Kläs: FORMAT supplies what one might call the raw materials for a kitchen – from the carcasses to the drawers, front panels, colours, many special features and much more besides. And all of this in numerous different variants and with the scope to cater for virtually any special customer desires. Our partners: kitchen studios and planning offices, then develop the individual customer's kitchen based on this foundation. That is why it is so important for us to work together with top quality, highly professional and creative partners.

Hubertus Kläs, CEO of Format Küchen, about European Lifestyle

photo: Kitchen in Switzerland
A family in Switzerland is the owner of this kitchen. In the catalogue the article about their kitchen-lifestyle is entitled "move".

Is there a difference between the lifestyles in the different European countries?

Hubertus Kläs: There certainly used to be quite palpable differences in lifestyle, taste and in the demands people placed on comfort. Today these distinctions are levelling off more and more; style and taste are becoming international and visually analogous – at least in the premium segment.

Hubertus Kläs, CEO of Format Küchen, about European Lifestyle
photo: Belgian kitchen; "Minimalism is the ideal stage for maximum expressiveness" is the design motto of the Belgian owners who are portrayed in the article "open minded".

Do the Germans or Belgians eat in other circumstances than the Dutch or Swiss? Or do the Europeans today have a collective lifestyle that transcends national and cultural borders?

Hubertus Kläs: The same applies here: the borders are breaking down. Our eating habits in the premium segment are becoming ever more similar in the various different countries. Internationalisation and globalisation are just as prevalent at the dining table in Zurich as they are in Salerno. And seafood finds its way to Berlin, or sushi to Scotland, just as in our catalogue.

Do the different nationalities prefer other surfaces, colours, refrigerators or ovens? Please name 1-3 significant design preferences.

Hubertus Kläs: In Italy and France people cook more with gas than in other countries. In Italy, the "birthplace of design", they tend to prefer their appliance fronts in stainless steel or in white. In the Mediterranean region one often finds modern looks, but also refined country cottage approaches to kitchens: "cottage light" one could say. This depends on the regional architecture to some degree. Heavy cast-iron ovens with state-of-the-art gas technology, but in a noble retro optic, form the centrepiece of the kitchen.

Does the favoured cuisine influence the design of kitchens? Has the trend for healthy nutrition with fresh vegetables changed the way a modern kitchen looks, for example with bigger working spaces?

Hubertus Kläs: Proper and healthy nutrition with fresh ingredients has always been a criterion, and today it is more important than ever. After junk food and fast food and the visible and tangible consequences they are having in our society, with people growing ever fatter, nutrition is once again being approached more consciously as our values are changing. The growing group of "Lohas" – lifestyle of health and sustainability – is turning quality food into a privilege of a hedonistic lifestyle. And this of course leads to food and cooking gaining considerably in terms of prestige. Kitchens are turning into "the happening place" within people's four walls. Open plans that incorporate cooking, dining and living into one room add even more value to the kitchen, putting it at the focal point of the living space.

Hubertus Kläs, CEO of Format Küchen, about European Lifestyle

photo: German kitchen
The catalogue article "living kitchen" is about a family in Germany. Their motto is "Some call it their kitchen. We call it our centre point."

The FORMAT kitchens presented on your online site are mostly open kitchens that seem to be integrated into the living room. Is "performance cooking" with friends a theme for the design of kitchens?

Hubertus Kläs:
Is I said, the floor plans in today's homes are changing. We are building with fewer walls, integrating what used to be separate functions into one room more and more. So if both quality and pleasure are now equally part of cooking and preparing food, these same values then automatically apply to the importance of the kitchen – and its size. We want to be there and be active in it, alone, with the family and with friends. The kitchen can actually become the stage for an event. The logical consequence is lots of space to work in and store things. Of course, each end customer has his or her own desires and demands that it is our task to fulfil. And that is what we do.

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